A GRANDAD from Leamington is helping to unlock the mystery of why people develop cancer.
John Whitney is the first person to take part in a ground-breaking project at University Hospital Coventry to test rare genetic codes which cause cancer and rare diseases.
The 68-year-old, who suffers from renal cancer, has lead the way for 70,000 other patients who will also donate a sample so scientists can test their genetic make up – also known as genomes.
Genomes are found in every part of the human body and are the genetic code which makes each person different.
The tests will put more than three billion of the genetics from one person in order so scientists can look for patterns and understand what causes life-limiting illnesses.
Mr Whitney said: “I am more than happy to be on the genomes trial if it’s going to help people in the long run. It might not even help me but it might help my kids and grandchildren and that’s worth it.
“They have taken a section of my kidney and will get all of the data they can from it. I don’t have to do any more than that.”
University Hospital is one of 18 trusts across the region which have come together to form the West Midlands Genomic Medicine Centre.
Genomes lead for University Hospital, Sean James said: “I am delighted that our first patient has been recruited to the programme, John is helping to shape the future of healthcare.
“The project is recruiting patients who have cancer or have rare diseases.”
Visit www.genomicsengland.co.uk to find out more about the project.